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A walk on Mariacka street in Gdansk

Mariacka is the most famous street in Gdansk, situated between Brama Mariacka and the largest temple in the world constructed of bricks – St Mary’s Church. Here, history peaks from every corner, plus you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee and buy some handicraft.

A walk on Mariacka street in GdanskUlica Mariacka w Gdańsku

© Artur Bogacki -

Almost everyone who walks the cobblestones of Mariacka Street is in awe of the old burgher houses and their beautiful perrons, the elegant mini-terraces in front of the entrances to the old burgher houses. If you look closely, you will find likenesses of beasts decorating the buildings, numerous gargoyles guarding the inhabitants of Mariacka against evil. The fantastic creatures not only bear witness to the imagination of their creators, but also have a practical use – they drain away rainwater. The word „gargoyle” originates from French and means to splash gurgle or spit with water.

If you are not interested in architecture, you might like to browse the products of local craftsmen, who offer mostly jewellery, but also ceramics and unique clothes. If you fancy a coffee and something sweet you can have a sit one of the atmospheric cafes. It is a small, but quaint street – squeezed between St Mary’s Gate from the side of Mołtawa and the impressive St Mary’s Church. It invites a walk and makes one ponder about the past and the people who created that beauty. If the cobblestones on Mariacka could speak, they would tell you about the Medieval times and the marshlands that stretched between Mołtawa, and the wooden church that is said to have stood here, founded by Świętopełk II, Duke of Pomerania. Surely they would tell you about the construction of the current temple, which dates back to 1343. After all, it is from St. Mary’s Church that the street takes its name. 

Historians believe that the first mention of platea Dominae Nostrae, i.e. Our Lady’s Street, appears in documents from 1350. The Germans called it Frauengasse, and the Poles Niewieścia (Lady Street), Panieńska (Virgin Street) or simply Naszej Pani (Our Lady’s Street). The construction of one of Gdansk’s water gates – Brama Mariacka – probably at the end of 15th century was an important moment in the history of Mariacka Street. The gate is ornamented with coats of arms: the symbol of Poland, to which the coats of arms of Gdansk and Prussia are bowing, on the side of Mołtawa, and on the side of Mariacka Street –  the coat of arms of Gdansk carried by lions. In the Medieval times Mariacka was home to cobbler’s workshops and butchers’ stands. In subsequent centuries, beautiful burgher houses were built here embellished with Biblical scenes, such as the dream of Jacob, the Annunciation or the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The end of the World War II was the most dramatic time for Gdansk and Mariacka, it was when the city was in flames. The buildings along Mariacka Street were reconstucted after the war, some of them in a slightly changed form, as Professor Januszajtis tells us: “The Renaissance façade no. 39 dated 1557 (on the corner of Mokra Street) was reconstructed here, instead of its original place on Piwna Street under no. 46”. There is also a gap right in front of the vicarage, which is a reminder that up until 1945 it was the location of the Meat Benches. Slabs with engravings of cows, which after the War were incorporated into the perron of no. 52, bear witness to that heritage.

When in Gdansk, certainly go to Mariacka, where time slows down and cobblestones spin a yarn of the city’s olden days.

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